A Family Legacy to Fight Brain Cancer

Jono Nagel Stories

Six years apart, a mother and daughter both passed away from brain cancer. Today, their families reached a goal set nearly 10 years ago to honor their memories and  continue a legacy of supporting Children’s Cancer Research Fund.

On October 15, 2008, Marissa Angell experienced two vastly different milestones in her life. The first – she turned 19 years old. The second – she was diagnosed with a deadly brain cancer.

Marissa had been experiencing headaches and vision problems, so she went in for an MRI. Doctors found a tumor the size of a tennis ball and immediately scheduled surgery to remove it. After surgery and two clear scans, Marissa returned to college, hoping life would go back to normal, but her headaches – and her cancer – soon returned. After months of chemotherapy, radiation, seizures, blood transfusions and extended hospital stays, Marissa passed away on December 20, 2009.

While Marissa was still fighting through treatment, she always thought about how she could help others so they wouldn’t have to go through what she was experiencing. She thought about what could have happened if doctors had found her tumor earlier or had been able to cure her type of cancer – and how she could help make that happen for the children diagnosed after her. Her motto was “fight like a girl,” and her family and friends wanted to continue that fight.

Marissa’s mom, Norma, started a memorial fund in her honor after her passing. Donations to the fund, housed by CCRF, will fund brain cancer research at the University of Minnesota. Her original goal was to raise $100,000 and when she quickly achieved that, Norma set  her sights on $250,000 by 2019, marking 10 years after Marissa’s passing.

The cause became even more important to Marissa’s family after Norma passed away, also from brain cancer, in 2016. Not only did her family keep raising money to honor both women, but they were able to reach $250,000 early, officially reaching their goal on December 7, Norma’s birthday. What a special day to reach such a significant milestone.

The family has consistently organized and supported various events throughout the years including AngellFest, the Derek & Andrea Lanz Poker Pub Crawls, silent auctions and family milestones to honor Marissa’s legacy.

Thank you to the Angell family and friends for their incredible commitment to discovering a cure for brain cancer!